Information for Gemini parents
Childhood into early adolescence is an important transition during which children’s eating habits can change; as they gain independence they make more decisions of their own about what and how much to eat.
The aim of the next phase of Gemini is to understand why some children develop healthy eating habits, a good relationship with food, positive body image and high self-esteem, but others struggle and develop difficulties, during the transition from childhood to adolescence.
Because the Gemini children are twins, this study offers a unique opportunity for researchers to understand better how genes (nature) and environmental factors (nurture) shape eating patterns over development. As part of our research, we hope to learn more about why eating disorders and unhealthy eating patterns sometimes develop. This may make it possible to identify children who are at risk at an early age, and allow parents to put strategies in place to help prevent eating disorders from developing.
If you missed any previous Gemini questionnaires, you can still participate now. Your information is always valuable to the study. We would like to encourage all Gemini families who started the study in 2007-8 to take part now
What will the next phase of Gemini involve?
Over the next 5 years we will be asking you to provide information about your twins’ development, eating and physical activity habits, and aspects of your home and family life. Now that your twins are 11-12 years old, we would also like to hear from them for the first time too. We will ask your twins to tell us about their eating patterns, and their thoughts and feelings about food and physical appearance. Some of the questions ask specifically about eating disorder symptoms, behaviours and thoughts. Information will be primarily collected via questionnaires (preferably to be completed online). These shouldn’t take too long to complete and are designed to allow you all to answer questions section by section at your own leisure. We need to ask you about a lot of things because eating habits are very complex and all the information is vital for understanding how they develop. We have tested the questionnaires with 20 parents and their 11-12 years old kids and it takes about 35-40 minutes for the parent and 20-25 minutes for the children to complete them. Most parents preferred to complete it in one go. The same parent should complete the questionnaire from start to finish.
You can view and download a PDF of each of the parent and the twins' questionnaires when you click on the link to complete the online questionnaires. You will need the password that we provided in the correspondence we sent you.
We will also ask you and your twins to complete a short online game to acquire new behaviour measures. We may also try to telephone you to interview you about your home family life (some of you may remember taking part in this interview when your twins were 4 years old).
What does the current study involve?
The current study consists of:
One questionnaire for you
One questionnaire per twin to complete separately
One online game for you
One online game per twin to complete separately
We are encouraging all families to complete questionnaires online rather than as hard copies. This will save trees and reduce greenhouse gas emissions!
The online questionnaire can be accessed by clicking on 'Take part now’. This will lead to you to the Parent Study page. Once you have read the instructions click 'click here to start the parent questionnaire' and enter the password we sent you in the letter (if you have lost the password contact us). This will lead to a page where you can access the questionnaire and the game. When you click on the questionnaire, please enter your Gemini ID when prompted and agree to the consent form. If possible, it is best to do the whole study in a single session. If this is not possible or your session is interrupted, you can log in again later. We have also sent you a tape measure with instructions for you to measure your and your twins’ waist circumferences. We also ask for your twins’ height and weight. If you need a new height chart please let us know and we will send you one. Please take all measurements of your twins (heights, weights and waist circumferences) before starting the questionnaire, make a note and provide these measures when asked for in the questionnaire.
Please don't use your browser's navigation buttons (e.g., Back or Refresh) during the study, as this could cause some of your progress to be lost. If you have any technical problems, please try closing your browser and logging in again, or using a different browser. If you need to take a break, or your session is interrupted, you can log in again later by clicking save and return and making a note of the return code. The study website is designed for desktop and laptop computers, or a tablet. However, the online game is not compatible with mobiles and tablets. If you prefer, you can complete hard copies of the questionnaire booklets instead. If you contact us we will send these to you.
When you click on the online game link you will be asked to download the software Inquisit.exe: this is perfectly safe and necessary for you to complete the online game. Please enter your Gemini ID when prompted and agree to the consent form before proceeding. You will then be asked for your Gemini ID again, your name and your date of birth. Please do not do the online game on a mobile phone or tablet.
We have created short instructions videos to help you complete all parts of this data collection. When you click ‘Take Part Now’ you will see these videos next to the links to the online questionnaires and games.
Rewards for taking part
To say thank you for taking part, we will send you (by email) a £10 Love2reward flexecode voucher, which can be used at a wide range of websites (Amazon, iTunes, Lovefilm, etc.). You must provide your email in the questionnaire to receive the voucher.
You and your twins will also be entered into a prize draw to win a pair of iPad Minis (5 families will win these).
The rewards are available once the whole family completes the questionnaires and games. All families who have completed all of the questionnaires and games will receive the £10 voucher and be entered into the prize draw.
What are the possible benefits or disadvantages of taking part?
Several Gemini families have contacted us to say how much they have enjoyed being part of a study that is making important strides in improving the health and development of children. Many families have also told us the questionnaires have given them the opportunity to reflect on their family life, which they have greatly valued. We have also had positive feedback from families about the yearly updates on the study that we provide through the annual newsletter.
To understand why some children develop healthy eating habits, and others have a more difficult relationship with food, we would like to ask your twins about their thoughts and feelings about food, eating, and their physical appearance. Some parents worry that these questions may upset their child. However, previous research of this nature has shown no harm to children. Nevertheless, if your child is upset by any questions or feels uncomfortable, they can stop at any time. If your child’s responses to any of the questions cause you to feel concerned about an eating disorder, the UK charity Beat Eating Disorders provides information and help online: www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk. If you are very worried, we recommend that you talk to your GP.
Do I have to take part?
It is up to you and your twins to decide whether or not to take part. You can withdraw at any time without giving a reason and without it affecting any benefits that you are entitled to.
What will happen to the results of the research project?
As we have done every year since the study began, we will send you an annual newsletter informing you about the progress and results of the study. We will also include summaries of the findings on the Gemini website (www.geministudy.co.uk or www.geministudy.com), via the Gemini Twitter account (@GeminiResearch), and via the new Gemini Facebook page (Gemini - Health and Development in Twins). We will also present results at conferences and publish them in scientific journals.
When will I be contacted again?
We would like to contact you again over the next five years. You do not have to let us know now whether or not you would like to continue to participate. If you took part in the phone interview when your twins were 4 years old we will telephone you over the next ten months to repeat the interview.
Will our participation in this project be kept confidential?
Yes. All the information that we collect about you and your twins during the course of the research will be kept strictly confidential. The information you provide will be stored in a pseudonymised format using your participant ID numbers (separate from your name and contact details), on a secure server at UCL. It will not be possible to identify any individual (parent or child) from the data, or in any ensuing reports or publications.
Who is organising and funding the research?
The research is organised by the Gemini research team at UCL, led by Dr Clare Llewellyn.
The UK charity ‘MQ: Transforming Mental Health’ is funding the research. To satisfy research council/charity-funded research, we are obligated to make the pseudonymised data available for future research should other researchers request it.
What if something goes wrong?
If you have concerns about this research, please contact Dr Clare Llewellyn [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Should you wish to take your matter further you can contact the Chair of the UCL Research Ethics Committee (email@example.com).
Thank you for reading this information about the study and for considering taking part in the next phase of Gemini research. If you have any queries about the study, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will reply to your email as soon as possible Monday to Friday. If you do not have access to the Internet you can give us a call on 02076791940. Please note that telephone enquiries may take longer to reply as staff members are not always at the desk due to research activities. If the call is not answered straight away, please leave a message and we will respond as soon as possible.
All proposals for research using people are reviewed by an ethics committee before they can proceed. This study has been approved by the UCL Research Ethics Committee (Project ID Number: 1624/004)
Please click here to download a copy of this information about the study and keep it for future reference.